- Parabolic Arc
- September 25, 2023
Biz Briefs – Open Cosmos and GHGSat Complete Raises
Welcome to Biz Briefs! In this edition, Open Cosmos and GHGSat completed big raises, SpaceX and Rocket Lab signed launch contracts, Northrop Grumman and Space Forge announced a strategic partnership on space manufacturing, SES partnered to bring communications to cruise ships and rural Alaska, Nova Scotia invested in Maritime Launch Services, and much more as the World Satellite Business Week conference generated a late summer blizzard of space news.
Open Cosmos raises $50 million
UK satellite manufacturer Open Cosmos raised $50 million in a Series B round from ETF Partners, Trill Impact, and A&G. The round included Accenture Ventures, Banco Santander InnoEnergy Climate Tech Fund, and Claret Capital Partners. Taavet Hinrikus and Kheng Nam Lee also participated.
GHGSat completes $44 million raise
Canadian satellite operator GHGSat completed a USD $44 million Series C1 round consisting of equity investment and debt to expand its constellation of greenhouse gas detecting spacecraft. Equity participants included Fonds de solidarité FTQ, BDC Capital, the investment arm of the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), the Government of Québec through Investissement Québec, Climate Investment, and the Japan Energy Fund. The Bank of Montreal (BMO) has provided debt facilities. The Montreal-based company has raised USD $126 million since it was founded in 2011.
SWISSto12 raises $28 million
SWISSto12 announced it has secured a €26.15 million (USD $28.1 million) working capital facility from UBS Switzerland AG. The funding will allow the company to meet customer demand for its HummingSat geostationary small satellite. SWISSto12 secured a deal to supply a HummingSat to Intelsat in 2022, followed in May 2023 by a deal to supply three HummingSats to Inmarsat.
Antaris raises $3.5M seed round
Space software company Antaris has closed a preferred seed funding round of $3.5 million led by Streamlined Ventures. The California company has now raised nearly $10 million. Streamlined Ventures Founder and General Partner Ullas Naik joined the Antaris Board of Directors.
Manastu Space raises $3 million pre-Series A round
Indian startup Manastu Space has raised $3 million in a pre-Series A round led by Capital 2B, BIG Capital, and E2MC. Other participants included Baring India via Sanchi Connect, Wealthy through Ventures, Roots Ventures, Spectrum Impact, the founders of Atomberg, and the family office of Aarti Industries. Manastu will use the money to develop a green propulsion and debris avoidance system.
Mission Control raises funds
Canadian space software developer Mission Control announced the initial close of a CAD $3.25 million (USD $2.4 million) seed round of equity financing led by Toronto-based GreenSky Ventures. Mission Control will advance its Spacefarer platform, which streamlines operations of space-based robotics and advanced payloads, and will further deploy deep-learning artificial intelligence in space. Mission Control has now raised more CAD $10.5 million (USD $7.8 million).
Telesat signs 14-launch agreement with SpaceX
Telesat signed a contract with SpaceX for 14 Falcon launches to orbit the company’s Lightspeed constellation of broadband communications satellites. SpaceX will begin deploying the 198 satellites in 2026, allowing Telesat to begin providing global service the following year.
Ball Aerospace wins NOAA contract
Ball Aerospace won a $486.9 million cost-plus-award-fee contract to build a sounder instrument for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Geostationary Extended Observations satellite program. The GeoXO Sounder is a hyperspectral infrared instrument that will provide real-time information about the vertical distribution of atmospheric moisture, temperature, and winds over the Western Hemisphere to improve weather forecasting. The National Hurricane Center will use GXS data to improve hurricane track and intensity forecasts.
Thaicom contracts Airbus for software-defined satellite
Thaicom Public Company has selected Airbus for its new generation software-defined, high-throughput satellite. Airbus will provide a fully reconfigurable OneSat. The satellite will provide extended connectivity in the Ku-band to millions of users in the Asia-Pacific region.
Arianespace to launch Intelsat IS-45 Satellite
Arianespace signed a contract with Intelsat to launch the IS-45 Ku-band communications satellite aboard an Ariane 6. The launch is targeted for the first half of 2026. It will be the 67th Intelsat satellite launched by Arianespace since October 1983.
Rocket Lab wins order for 4 HASTE launches
Rocket Lab (Nasdaq: RKLB) announced it has signed a contract with Leidos to launch four suborbital Hypersonic Accelerator Suborbital Test Electron (HASTE) missions in 2024 and 2025. Leidos selected Rocket Lab to provide hypersonic test launch capabilities with HASTE under the MACH-TB project. The project was awarded by Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Crane on behalf of the US Department of Defense Test Resource Management Center (TRMC). The flights will be conducted from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
Firefly awarded $18 Million NASA contract
Firefly Aerospace was awarded an $18 million NASA Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) contract to provide radio frequency calibration services from lunar orbit as part of Blue Ghost Mission 2, Firefly’s second mission to the Moon in 2026. This contract marks Firefly’s third NASA CLPS task order award, totaling nearly $230 million to date for lunar payload services.
Iridium wins US Space Force contract
Iridium Communications won a five-year base indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract with one five-year option from the US Space Force for Iridium Certus® broadband services. The multiple awardee contract is part of a US Proliferated Low Earth Orbit (PLEO) Satellite-Based Services award and includes multiple Iridium partners.
Iridium to provide IoT services for XCMG heavy equipment
Xuzhou Construction Machinery Group (XCMG) will deploy Iridium Communication’s Edge Internet of Things (IoT) services on its global fleet of heavy equipment, beginning with excavators and expanding to loaders and crane trucks as needed. The state-run Chinese company will utilize Iridium’s global network to maintain connectivity with its heavy equipment in Australia, Southeast Asia, Latin America, Africa, and Central Asia.
Solstar Space wins $1.2 Million US Space Force Contract
Space Wi-Fi company Solstar Space will continue development of its Deke Space Communicator under a $1.25 million Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II contract awarded by the US Space Force. The system integrates with a spacecraft’s telemetry, tracking, and commanding (TT&C) system to provide Internet-based monitoring of the spacecraft’s bus, payload, and environment.
Rubicon Space Systems wins AFRL & NASA contracts
Rubicon Space Systems, a division of Plasma Processes LLC, has won contracts from NASA and the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) for its Advanced Spacecraft Energetic Non-toxic Propellant (ASCENT) propulsion system. Rubicon will deliver 1-Newton ASCENT thrusters to AFRL for use in future space mission demonstrations.
NASA will use ASCENT to further the development of dual-mode propulsion systems. ASCENT uses an ionic chemical monopropellant that will also be used to power several electric thrusters. The SBIR Phase III contract from NASA is worth $645,000.
SCOUT Space awarded contract to develop Autonomous Satellite Software suite
SCOUT Space has won a $1.25 million SBIR award from the US Air Force’s AFWERX directorate to develop a satellite software suite with autonomous sensor-driven multi-agent guidance and navigation capabilities.
NASA awards near-Earth communications, navigation industry studies
NASA selected four companies to perform capability studies in three areas: wideband satellite communications, phased array ground systems, and constellation topology analysis. The awards included:
- Cesium Astro of Austin, Texas, for $395,640 (Study Area 1 – Wideband Satellite Communications)
- Swedish Space Corporation of Horsham, Pennsylvania, for $149,028 (Study Area 2 – Phased Array Ground Systems)
- Intuitive Machines of Houston, Texas, for $126,650 (Study Area 3 – Constellation Topology Analysis)
- MTI Systems of Lothian, Maryland, for $91,012 (Study Area 3 – Constellation Topology Analysis).
Arianespace signs contract with RIDE!
Arianespace has signed a contract with the startup RIDE! to integrate its Ariane 5 and Vega C launchers into the company’s on-demand digital launch platform. RIDE! offers a service that allows satellite manufacturers and operators to easily identify available slots on launchers based on their satellite’s technical characteristics and requirements.
Province of Nova Scotia invests in Maritime Launch Services
Spaceport Nova Scotia has been deemed eligible for more than CAD $13 million (USD $9.62 million) in provincial funding under the Nova Scotia Capital Investment Tax Credit Program (CITC).
Fleet Space Technologies takes a stake in Thor Energy
Fleet Space Technologies has taken an equity stake in Thor Energy as part of a broader partnership between the two companies. The companies will “leverage EXOSPHERE BY FLEET® technology and Thor’s expertise to revolutionize the understanding of the Alford East Copper-REE Project in South Australia, underpinning more precise drilling to realize the site’s potential faster and with less impact,” Fleet Space said in a press release.
UAE space sector investment surpasses Dhs22 billion
Investment in the United Arab Emirates’ space sector has surpassed 22 billion dirhams (USD $5.99 billion). Investments have been made in satellite communications systems, broadcast services, Earth and space exploration, and other areas.
JAXA gets to ¥10 billion boost for tech development
The government plans to provide ¥10 billion (USD $67.8 million) to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in fiscal year 2024 for the space agency to fund companies and universities developing new space technologies. The government also plans to revise the Law Concerning JAXA to allow for large-scale, long-term funding of space technologies.
Space Forge signs partnership with Northrop Grumman
UK startup Space Forge has signed a deal with Northrop Grumman under which the U.S. company will characterize the materials produced by Space Forge’s on-orbit factory satellites and use the substrates manufactured by them to produce electronic systems.
SES, Starlink introduce communications solution for cruise ships
SES and SpaceX’s Starlink have teamed to offer low-latency, high-throughput satellite communications to the cruise ship industry through the SES Cruise mPOWERED + Starlink service.
SES, OneWeb provide communications to rural Alaska
SES and OneWeb Technologies, Inc. announced the availability of secure, high-speed, low-latency, low Earth orbit (LEO) broadband services for school districts and healthcare facilities throughout Alaska. The companies installed 50 OneWeb satellite terminals in remote areas across Alaska.
Amazon’s Kuiper teams with Vodafone
Amazon’s Project Kuiper and Vodafone will collaborate on using the Kuiper broadband satellite constellation to extend 4G/5G communications to more customers in underserved areas of Europe and Africa. The first two Kuiper satellites are scheduled for launch next month.
Dragonfly Aerospace, Neuraspace form STM strategic partnership
Dragonfly Aerospace and Neuraspace have formed a strategic partnership to improve space traffic management (STM). Dragon will use Neuraspace’s STM platform on its EOS SAT-1 spacecraft to evaluate potential orbital collisions and avoidance maneuvers. EOS-Sat-1 will benefit from enhanced capabilities to autonomously maneuver and avoid potential collisions with other space objects.
Satellogic partners with SkyWatch
Satellogic announced a partnership to make its Earth observation data available on Sky Watch’s EarthCache platform. “EarthCache provides an intuitive interface and robust API that enables customers to browse archive data, as well as task new satellite imagery by using a variety of criteria,” Satellogic said in a press release.
Viasat UK & Oxford Space Systems to develop new antennas
Viasat UK and Oxford Space Systems are collaborating on the creation of new satellite communications technology and capability to better support soldiers, disaster recovery workers, and others who need fast access to high-capacity communications networks in areas lacking them. The work will focus on developing a smaller and higher-performance Ka-band antenna that is easier to transport and deploy.
GAO finds SLS program unaffordable
Senior NASA officials told the Government Accountability Office that the Space Launch System (SLS) is unaffordable at current cost levels, according to a GAO report released last week. The government watchdog says it’s too early to determine if NASA’s plans to reduce the cost of the giant Moon rocket will be effective.
US-India mission to ISS planned
The United States and India have agreed to develop a framework for human spaceflight cooperation by the end of this year and conduct a joint mission to the International Space Station in 2024. The two nations also agreed to cooperate on planetary defense.
UK rejoins Europe’s Copernicus program
Great Britain will rejoin Europe’s Copernicus climate satellite and Horizon science research programs under a new agreement. Britain left the programs after it ended its membership in the European Union (EU) in 2020. The Sentinel program had been facing a funding shortfall of 721 million euros (USD $774.1 million) as a result of Britain’s departure. The European Space Agency (ESA) oversees the building and operations of Sentinel satellites with EU funding.
Polish astronaut trains for space mission
Polish reserve astronaut Sławosz Uznański has begun training as a project astronaut at the European Astronaut Centre in Troisdorf, Germany. The Polish government recently signed an agreement with Axiom Space to send an astronaut on a private mission to the International Space Station.
FAA updates Fact Book on commercial space
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has updated its interactive Fact Book with commercial space data from the first licensed space operation in 1989. The previous version covered 2010 to the present day.
Chris Emerson joins All.Space
Chris Emerson is the new chairman of British antenna manufacturer All.Space. Emerson is a partner at AE Industrial Partners, which is an investor in All.Space. He formerly headed up Airbus U.S. Space and Defense.
Slingshot Aerospace appoints new vice president
Audrey Schaffer has joined Slingshot as vice president of strategy and policy. Slingshot is a space data analytics company focused on spaceflight safety. Schaffer was formerly director of space policy at the White House National Security Council.